Raising kids is serious business. As parents, none of us should take the responsibility of rearing kids lightly. Much is riding on the shoulders of moms and dads in terms of expectations, accountability, and even judgement. So to consider something as serious a discipline, we need to be well versed in what disciple is and how to properly apply it.
I've been thinking about this a lot, lately; and having just preached a 4 week series on the first 4 chapters of Genesis, I am all the more aware of the importance of good discipline and proper application. So what I would like to do is begin a discussion about what disciple might/should look like in the home. My hope is that you, our wonderful readers and followers might share in the discussion by offering your thoughts, stories, and lessons learned in the comment section below.
To get us started, let me first lay out 3 things that I think are most important to our conversation. As we go forward, I will break these thoughts down and share some examples, stories, and application. But for now, let's just consider these as very broad ideas.
1. What is Discipline?
I think for most of us, if we were to define discipline, we might say something like, "Discipline is what is handed out following an act of wrong doing." In other words, the child acts out in an improper way and is thus disciplined. The problem with that thought is that leave discipline as the response to ill behavior, when really, discipline is a process that should begin before the action is ever carried out. To full understand this, let's consider how discipline is defined. To do this, let's look at how this word is defined by Hebrew and Greek, the two languages that we get our Bible from.
Without getting into the nitty-gritty here, we can say that both, Greek and Hebrew, present the idea of discipline as the act of instruction or teaching. That means that one part of our discipline as parents is to be teachers first. We are to instruct our children in matters of behavior, right and wrong, and what is expected of them as members of the family and members of society. This instruction I believe is to be applied early in the life of the child and as an on-going practice of training the child. As he or she grows, the instruction increases thus expanding their learning base and hopeful the lessons learned. But discipline is also defined as the corrective action that is applied to remind and reinforce the first principle of discipline. You see, for me, discipline is the process of parents teaching and instructing their children with the rules or expectations that are being passed down while maintaining a corrective position when the rules or expectations are broken. It's a before and after, not just an after. I'll give an example of this idea a little later.
2. The Bible is the Resource for all Discipline?
While having a recent discussion with one of our kids over a matter that required discipline, I was struck with how relevant and practical God's Word really is in moments of discipline. While I know the words from 2 Timothy 3:16&17, that reads, "16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." it hasn't been till recently that I could use scripture in the context of teaching and correcting. When they kids were younger, teaching came by principles. Now, as they mature, I can connect principle with actual truth.
Furthermore, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, reinforces for us as parents the importance of instructing our kids.
"4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
When it comes to discipline, parents, we are to use the Bible as the source for all instruction and correction! More than just on Sunday, we are to be teaching our kids the things written in God's Word on a daily basis. We are to use the every day experiences to reinforce God's truths. And when corrective action is required, the Bible should still be used to teach and apply the corrective effort.
3. Pray Before, During and After!
When the kids were younger, the matters of discipline were simpler. Infractions were, well, minor. But what I always appreciated was how Amy would pray with the kiddos when she was dealing with them. Fast forward to today and we're now raising teenagers. Suddenly the infractions are not as minor as they once were. Influences such as friends, culture, media, and their own sinful nature are now pushing the envelope and we're dealing with much weightier matters. One of the things I am learning is that as parents we must take serious the need to pray over our children in all matters of life. When the time arrives to sit down and apply discipline, prayer must be part of the endeavor. Pray before the confrontation. Quietly pray in the spirit while you are talking. End your time together in prayer. But then, take it one step further and continue praying for your child as they work through the discipline and consequences that follow.
As we unpack these thoughts this week, I want to encourage you to join us in this discussion. Share your thoughts about discipline in light of God's word. We would love hear story of how you handled matters of discipline with your kids. For those of you who are now enjoying the bliss of being grandparents, your experience can be most helpful, so please take some time to share.
And of course, please feel free to ask your questions. Where you are now in raising your children might be the same place someone else was in 5, 10 or 15 years ago. Perhaps their experience could offer you some hope and guidance.
- the Higham Family
Thanks for taking the time to read The Higham Family Blog. Each week we try to share new content about something we are learning, something we love, or something to offer encouragement to the family. We love to hear from our readers, so please share your thought in the comment section of each post.